BY BETH BALDWIN (Guest Writer)
So, I’ve always been a bit of a worrier. And I know I’m not alone in this. Following the birth of my daughter in 2016 I was diagnosed with PND, and whilst I thankfully no longer suffer with this it did trigger anxiety and at the end of 2019 I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I thought I would share my tips on parenting with anxiety.
A lot of the time I feel like I’m better at managing my anxiety than I used to be, but there are definitely times where it’s managing me instead. Which is certainly not easy with a four year old in tow. So here are my focusses when it feels like anxiety is creeping in on my parental responsibility.
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep will do. It’s tempting to go to bed and scroll through social media for too long, but you’ll always have a better night’s sleep if you put down the phone and pick up a book instead. When I’m really struggling to sleep because I’m busy overthinking, I’ll use valerian drops.
Make some time for yourself.
I know, easier said than done with little ones around. But even if you can find yourself a little pocket of time…an hour in the evenings, a small walk, even just doing the food shop on your own! We all need some time where we can switch off parent-mode and just let our brains breathe out a bit.
Find a hobby
that will calm you down when you’re feeling really anxious or wound up. I personally like doing embroidery. I’m not very good at it, but that’s not the point! It keeps my brain busy and focussed, whilst distracting me from whatever has triggered anxiety. Same goes for baking, reading, adult colouring books, anything you’d like!
Look after yourself
Now this can be a hard one at times. A lot of the time it can feel like a huge effort to get the little ones dressed, fed, cleansed and looked after, let alone yourself! But I don’t necessarily mean a full face of make up and glam hair. Have yourself a nice bath, get a good skin care routine going, and just made sure that every day you feel comfortable and good about yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup!
A classic symptom of anxiety is overthinking, so get those thoughts out of your head and on to a piece of paper! It keeps your head calmer and ticking off those jobs that stress you out feels so satisfying. Even the little jobs like washing up, putting on a laundry load…trust me. And bonus, there are so many pretty list books available.
Only consume media that is helpful to you or makes you feel happy.
Every now and then I’ll go through my list of accounts I follow on Instagram and unfollow any who don’t make me feel positive. Ensure your only following accounts that make you feel good and avoid any that may post triggering content. We just don’t need that extra negativity in our lives!
Even if just for a little walk around the block. I can’t tell you the amount of times that I really didn’t want to, and I’d really have to drag myself out the door, but I can honestly say that I’ve always felt better after a walk, every single time. Sometimes you just need some fresh air.
Allow yourself sad days.
It can be hard with little ones around, I know. They depend on us. With my little one I try to be honest with her. I don’t tell her everything as she’s only 4. But I do tell her when sometimes I’m feeling a bit sad or stressed. You may be surprised at how much they want to help you feel better! Your feelings are valid, and you need to allow yourself to feel them in order to process them.
Maybe the most important one…get help!
If you are reaching the point where you’re having more bad days than good, where anxiety is really muscling in on your parenting ability and your relationships, where your struggling with negative thoughts…get help! There are so many lovely (and free) services available to you through your local GP. In the past I have used the NHS Let’s Talk service, which you can refer yourself to without having to see a GP. No one of judging and everyone just wants you to feel better.
I really hope this helps. Please note that I am no professional, these are just things to do that help me manage parenting with anxiety, and hopefully they can help you to manage yours. So get those kids to bed, put on some pyjamas, get Bridgerton on and indulge in a bit of self care! You truly deserve it.
Love, Beth xxx